Author Archives: Steve Pauls

The Importance of Spatial Learning

Spatial learning was defined by Harvard educator Howard Gardner in 1983 as one of nine individual “parts of the whole” in his theory of multiple intelligences. His ideas have somewhat fallen out of favor over the years mostly due to misinterpretation of his theory. Teachers have always tended to place each student in one of Howard Gardner’s nine modes of intelligences based on their intellectual strengths. Students do not usually have only one strength, however, but can instead be thought of as being placed on a continuum for each, excelling at some areas and showing deficits in others. Regardless of the talents exhibited, these intelligence areas are not fixed, but can and do change over time with interest and training. At the core of the theory of multiple intelligences is that a person’s cognitive ability goes far beyond the traditional measurements we use in standardized education.

Our educational system has traditionally concentrated on the areas of verbal and mathematics. We have historically spent a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money at improving our student’s reading, writing, and arithmetic. I contend that besides verbal and mathematics training, there is a third leg to this stool which is just as equally important: spatial learning. Very little attention has been spent on spatial learning in the classroom mostly due to the lack of understanding of its overall importance and of its absence within our standardized testing model.

Current educational research continues to show that spatial learning is a key characteristic needed for critical thinking and solving real-world problems. This research shows that there is a direct correlation between spatial reasoning skills and achievement in all areas of the STEM fields, reading comprehension, and higher-order thinking. Research involving spatial training has shown that this ability is far from a “fixed” intelligence but can be significantly improved with treatment regardless of age. The improvement after a short amount of spatial training has been demonstrated to result in long lasting positive effects. In many ways I see spatial learning as the “low-hanging fruit” on our educational improvement tree. It is an area that is underdeveloped and underserved within our educational community, and with implementation of current research, it could have a significant impact for our students, especially in the areas of science and mathematics. Over the last ten years, there have been several spatial learning centers that have popped up across the country to help develop educational curriculum for teachers in this area. If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest checking out spatial researchers such as Dr. Nora Newcombe and the website for her Spatial Intelligence Learning Center (SILC) housed at Temple University. You will find a tremendous amount of research and resources related to spatial training for the classroom. In my next blog post, I will explore the importance of spatial learning specifically within the area science education.


Where is the Overlap Between Teaching and Learning?

As an “aging” educator and a self-professed lifelong learner, I have spent a lot of my time thinking about both teaching and learning within the confinements of the educational classroom. Are the concepts of teaching and learning synonymous with each other? Or are they exclusive from one another? I have recently been part of several… Continue Reading

Passion and Play in the Classroom

The idea of “play” as an educational structure in the classroom is a not new concept, but historically there has been significant international interest in research related to the benefits of student learning through play. Mitchel Resnick, a founder of the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, has just published a new book based around… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part IV)

In the final installment of my blog series concerning education and technology, I would like to look ahead at the new technology that is currently attracting interest within educational and academic research. As a reminder, this series stems from the Jean Piaget Society conference I attended which had the theme “Technology and Human Development.” In… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part III)

This blog post is the third in a series concerning technology in education stemming from the Jean Piaget Society Conference I attended in June. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and Human Development.” It provided a venue to discuss technology through a variety of different academic disciplines and research frames of reference all… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part II)

I have been exploring the idea of technology in education since attending the Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference in San Francisco in early June. The theme for the 2017 conference was Technology and Human Development. In my last blog post, I reflected on the increasing rate of change in technology and how that exponential change… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part I)

The major theme of the Jean Piaget Society annual conference in June was Technology and Human Development. Since attending the conference, I have been part of several fascinating discussions that I would like to explore concerning the future advance of technology within education. In his book Singularity, Ray Kurtzweil talks about how human beings are… Continue Reading